Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger

Karisma Hotels & Resorts continues to expand its presence in the Mexican Caribbean. At the company's 2018 Gourmet Inclusive Vacation Consultant (GIVC) awards and marketing forum last week, I learned about the company's aggressive growth plans for the region.

Karisma's latest property, Xolumado Inspiration Village, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony during GIVC. The village, which had its soft opening this month and will have its official opening in January, was announced at last year's conference. Tucked in the jungle behind Generations Riviera Maya, Xolumado Inspiration Village comprises 41 villas within 2.5 acres of a jungle retreat.

Surrounded by gardens and pathways, Xolumado Inspiration Village has cottages in three suite categories: Serenity Suites, which have palm thatched roofs, open terraces, and Mexican and Asian-inspired decor; the Zen Garden Suite, with a private balcony; and the Tranquility Suite, which comprises two adjoining Zen Garden Suites. The property also has a pool, access to beach cabanas, and the Xolumado Restaurant BBQ & Bar.

The vibe at Xolumado is tranquility and relaxation, with daily yoga and meditation, and a Shhh Experience complete with sound healing, outdoor breathing exercises and massage lessons. There are also Spanish and Mayan classes, Mexican cooking classes, tequila and mezcal tastings, movie nights in the jungle, pottery painting, diving and wine pairings. Guests can also access Generations Riviera Maya, including its five restaurants, three bars, lounges, pool and beach.

Karisma is also in the process of constructing Mexico's first Nickelodeon Hotel & Resort Riviera Maya, which will open in 2020 right next door to Generations Riviera Maya.

Nickelodeon already has a property in Punta Cana, but this will be the brand's first for Mexico. "This will be the flagship Nickelodeon," said Kelly Poling, senior vice president of marketing for Karisma. "As great as the Punta Cana property is, this hotel from pencil to paper was always going to be a Nickelodeon and I think it will be the best in the portfolio."

The resort will have 276 oceanfront swim-up suites, plus four Nickelodeon-themed signature Penthouses on top of the two six-story buildings. Penthouses are being designed in accordance with Nickelodeon characters like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and SpongeBob Square Pants. All four penthouses will have infinity pool swim-up access, and sky-high oceanfront views of the property's white-sand beach.

But the piece de resistance of this property will be Aqua Nick, a 500,000-square-foot water park, and one of the largest water parks in Mexico. Activities will include a lazy river, waterslides, splash park, an interactive water playground for toddlers and mini relaxation pools.

At the heart of the resort will be Nickelodeon Place, where guests of all ages can mingle with characters like Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob. Within the Place is Club Nick, a hangout for kids; Plaza Orange, for music and games; and MainStage, a theater for entertainment experiences. A spa has kids' treatments, individual suites, couple's suites, a bridal suite, and outdoor treatment areas.

Restaurants will be part of the Gourmet Inclusive Experience, from the seafront Yacht Club to the Mexican cantina, Espadin. The Bikini Bottom gourmet corner is a fast, casual, midday meal venue, and guests will also have access to the restaurants at Generations Riviera Maya.

"Nickelodeon has extreme brand awareness," said Poling. "When looking at where to expand we did a study on the entirety of Latin America. Nickelodeon reaches 25-30 percent of kids in Latin America. It's a vast household name." Karisma has plans to expand the brand across Latin America, but Poling specifically noted looking at Colombia, Brazil and Argentina.

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